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Monday, August 27, 2012

Doomed Ships ~ a guest post from Laurel Ann Nattress + Giveaway!

You may recall our "colorful" discussion on "Doomed 'Ships" - aka Austen relationships that may be headed for the rocks. Laurel Ann Nattress, editor of the short story anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, wanted to tackle that question in depth!

I asked:
A lot of readers - as much as they may love the books - are bothered by some of the pairings (think Marianne and Brandon, or Fanny and Edmund); are there any Austen couples you think are going to have a rocky road ahead of them?
Laurel Ann: I am worried about several of Jane Austen’s characters:

Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney: What will happen after their wedding in Northanger Abbey? She is so young and he so witty, will he get bored? Will Catherine mature into a young lady with her own opinions? Will Henry’s eye wander for more sophisticated conversation until she does? Will he get tired of her lack of worldly knowledge and of teaching her about everything? Will his parishioners eat her alive? Oh dear. Margaret Sullivan gave us a glimpse of their life together in There Must Be Murder, but so many “what if’s” can still arise, that I am dying for someone to write a full on sequel to Northanger Abbey. And, what about Isabella Thorpe? Her fate, based on her wild personality could be quite dire. I imagine her being used by a succession of wealthy rakes and ending up in the profession. Oh my!

Emma Woodhouse and George Knightley: This couple from Emma are in for a rough ride. They are both such strong characters: she so spoiled and resolute in her opinion of what should be, and he also resolute in his own, that there are bound to be heated conflicts in the Knightley household. I imagine great make up sex though, which of course Jane Austen would never even allude to, but modern writers continuing their story could have fun with in a behind closed doors way without giving us the details.

Elinor Dashwood and Edward Ferrars: I mostly worry about him. Being honorable to the point of self-destruction can have its draw backs, as we witnessed in Sense and Sensibility. Elinor is so stoic and Edward so compliant, that I fear that no decisions in the Ferrars household will ever come to fruition. She would say nothing. He would do nothing. Let’s hope that with maturity, they both see that dysfunctional codependent behavior brings nothing but frustration and misery.

To flip your question Misty, here are a few Austen couples whose relations I feel will succeed.

Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy: They have both gone through such a humbling transformation to earn each other’s love during the course of Pride and Prejudice that I feel their marriage begins on solid and equal footing. His money and her sharp wit will win any opposition they may meet in society regarding her family rank. It is a one, two punch for success.

Harriet Smith and Robert Martin: Readers often discredit Harriet Smith as a ditzy blonde and Robert Martin as a yeoman farmer in Emma, but he is educated and knows his heart, and she, though influenced by the charms of society, also knew what she wanted from the start, realized her mistake and went back to Robert and reconnected. They may have a simple and uneventful life, but odds on they will be happy.

Lucy Steele and Robert Ferrars: Oh, I heard you all gasp in disbelief across the Internet! Yes, the two nasty pieces of work from Sense and Sensibility will be happy in their married life. She is so sly and clever that he will never know he is being coned, and he is so rich and distracted with clothing and social appearances that he will never know that she has squirreled away his fortune before she poisons him so she can run away to America with the hunky groom.

All of these fears and suppositions feed into my addiction to Austen para-literature. We must continue talking and reading about what Jane Austen characters do after the wedding. Thank goodness so many authors feel the same way and continue to write prequels, sequels and short stories about my favorite author’s creations.

What say you? Do you agree or disagree with my choices?

Author bio:
A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the author/editor of Austenprose.com and the new short story anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It released by Ballantine Books in October 2011. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a regular contributor to the PBS blog Remotely Connected and the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington where it rains a lot. Visit Laurel Ann at her blog Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress.    

Giveaway chance for Jane Austen Made Me Do It

Enter a chance to win one copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress by leaving a comment agreeing or disagreeing with any of the future character relationships mentioned in this blog post by 11:59 pm, September 5th, 2012. Winner to be announced here at The Book Rat. Shipment to US addresses only. Good luck!

© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, The Book Rat

Click here to be taken to the Austen in August Main Page! Fab button artwork c/o Antique Fashionista!


  1. Lucy Steele would run away to Paris or somewhere else fashionable.

    I think Edward and Elinor will work out. They'll have some rocky times figuring out how to communicate effectively, but they'll work things out. Elinor is to practical to leave decisions unmade for too long, but I can see her sacrificing her personal wants a bit too often. I think she and Edward will grow together into a happy couple.

  2. Your comment of Emma and Knightly makes me laugh.

    For a sequel to Sense and Sensibility, try "The Three Sisters" by Julia Barrett. It's mainly about Margaret Dashwood, but it refers to all the other S&S characters. You are quite right about Lucy Steele and Robert Ferrars. They are quite a couple.

  3. I agree with you about Lucy and Robert. I know some very real life couples that are interestingly similar to these two. I guess you can say they deserve each other and may never know conventional happiness, but if it works for them, I say good for them. Of course, its important others don't get brought into the mess themselves...

  4. @Tessa, @Kris Ellsworth and @Shira Trev, I find it so interesting that you all were drawn to my surmises about Lucy and Robert Ferrars. I am hoping for a sequel including them as main characters, or at the least supporting ones. They fascinate me too.

    Thanks for the recommendation of The Three Sisters Kris. I am aware of the novel and must obtain a copy from my library.

    No one is concerned about Henry and Catherine? Oh my.

  5. Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill are doomed because I think he'll lose a bit of interest once he's gotten her. He always seemed to me to only enjoy games, and as she was forbidden and a secret, playing the game to get her was his intent.

  6. You forgot Jane and Bingley. I think they would go the same way as Elinor and Edward. At least that is what Mr. Bennett predicted.

  7. As much as I love Sense and Sensibility, yeah, Elinor and Edward are pretty much doomed if they don't change their stoic behavior. I've been in that relationship. It didn't so much crash and burn as it whimpered and waited to be put out of its misery.

  8. I think you are totally right about Emma and John it will be a rocky marriage baut in the end I do think they are perfect for each other :)!!!! Also I totally agree about Harriet and Robert, she was easily influenced by Emma but in the end she made up her own mind and choose Robert without wavering. Get post I really enjoyed reading it :)!!!!

  9. I don't think Fanny and Edmund are a good match. However, I'm not saying they should have each ended up with a Crawford.

  10. I love your thoughts on this, Laurel Ann! :D I honestly hadn't given it all much thought...about the two year in slump or the 7 year itch.
    I think that Emma and Mr. Knightly are a good pair, hopefully Emma's realizing how close she was to not being open to love or losing him will make her more appreciative of him, and vice versa.
    I also think Anne Elliot and Capt. Wentworth probably go on to happiness.
    One pair I wonder about is Marianne and Col. Brandon. Hopefully she wasn't just on the rebound ;)

  11. I think Lucy Steele and Robert Ferrars might have a marriage that lasts but I think they will end up being that couple that always bickers. I don't see them as being happy, not unless the other is miserable. :-)

  12. I never worry about Catherine and Henry! In my experience, men love be with someone who will always look up to them (and isn't Catherine's naïveté a bit what Henry loved in the first place?). I think she'll always be a bit behind Henry intellectually, but that he will love having an adoring wife at his side who is also very kind and good-hearted. Catherine is also clearly capable of growing and learning, so I think she'll be able to figure things out as she goes (even if it does take her a while). Having Eleanor as a sister-in-law, friend, and advisor will help as well!

    Naturally, I totally agree about Mr. and Mrs. Darcy being the perfect match :)

  13. I never worry about Catherine and Henry! In my experience, men love be with someone who will always look up to them (and isn't Catherine's naïveté a bit what Henry loved in the first place?). I think she'll always be a bit behind Henry intellectually, but that he will love having an adoring wife at his side who is also very kind and good-hearted. Catherine is also clearly capable of growing and learning, so I think she'll be able to figure things out as she goes (even if it does take her a while). Having Eleanor as a sister-in-law, friend, and advisor will help as well!

    Naturally, I totally agree about Mr. and Mrs. Darcy being the perfect match :)

  14. I wonder how happy Jane and Mr Bingley will be, they are both such pushovers. Also, feel a bit concerned about Charlotte, although she'd probably find her happiness in her children and stuff she did in the community. Louisa and Benwick in Persuasion are another pair, as you wonder whether she'll change again as she fully recovers from the accident, and they really rush into that relationship.

  15. I have to say that this is probably my post so far. I love your take on Lucy Steele and Robert Ferrars. Although I alway so her as setting him up to be robed and killed by highwaymen or some such end. I don't think she would personally get her hands dirty. Also, I so agree with Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth they will live happily ever after or at least as close to it as possible. Jane and Bingley have Elizabeth and Darcy to guide them so no worries there.
    Elinor and Edward are so much a like in character that they will bore each other death. My most hated couple is Fanny and Edmund because he just seem to settle for Fanny. That has always bugged me. She pinned for him forever and he just doesn't seem like the worth type. I think he will disappoint a lot.

  16. Sorry guys, I really need to do a better job on proof-reading before I submit my comments. The above has several mistakes. I will try to be more careful in future.

  17. Great article! I do worry alot about Catherine. Lol, I hate Mr. Tilney(now I've done it). He has some of the coldness in him as his nasty father. He left Catherine in that house of horrors, after filling her head with ghost stories, knowing that his father was a cold hearted monster. Does he really love Catherine? I think not.

    I'm much more hopeful for Emma and Mr. Knightley! She has learned some hard lessons. He moved in to Hartfield! Cheers!

  18. I totally agree with Lucy and Robert. And, to discuss another unpopular couple, I think Charlotte and Mr. Collins will be fine. He's too dense to worry about disharmony in the home and Charlotte has the security she wanted. They'll likely be quite content with each other.

  19. I think Jane Fiarfax is doomed to a vexatious life -- Frank Churchill is too mischievous and flippant to provide any steady means of happiness. You never know where you are with him, and always suspect some double meaning or hidden motive for everything he says and does. How exhausting he would be to live with!

  20. I worry about Louisa and Capt Bennick. He seems so much more intellectual than she.

  21. @ Roni, I totally agree that Frank and Jane Churchill are doomed. They fall in the category of romances/marriages that Austen used to show us what not to do. Lydia and George Wickham, William Elliot and Mrs. Clay, John Willoughby and Miss Grey to name a few are more that will have a rocky path.

    Thanks for sharing.

  22. @Daisimae, I do agree that Jane and Charles Bingley will be easily persuaded and have trouble making decisions, but I think that @bookrockgodess is correct in thinking that they will have Darcy and Elizabeth to guide them, thank goodness!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  23. @bookrockgodess, I love the idea of Lucy plotting to have Robert killed by highwaymen. *slaps forehead* Of course she would never dirty her hands.

    And @Tessa is totally correct in her conclusion that Lucy would run off to France after the deed was completed. She would never go to America. There is a great selection of men, but little of the conveniences that she craves, like London society, French fashion and MONEY.

    Thanks for sharing, LA


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